As the unquestioned leader of one of the most colorful teams in recent major league¬†memory,¬† Darren Daulton¬†helped¬†to bring the City of Brotherly Love a pennant in 1993 as the heart and soul of the “Gashouse Gang of the ’90s.”
Daulton¬†joined Gary Carter, Johnny Bench and Roy Campanella as just the fourth¬†catcher in¬†National League history to lead the league in RBI when he drove in 109 runs in 1992, and won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997.
The three-time All-Star recently shared some time with B&C to discuss why his experiences with the ’93 Phillies were the best of his career, why Joe Mauer is worth $25 million a year, his thoughts on Roy Halladay, Brad Lidge and Jayson Werth, and why he feels that¬†Mark McGwire’s¬†steroids revelation is¬†“useless information.”
To you, the loyal and learned B&C reader, we proudly present Darren Daulton.
First of all, thank you for agreeing to speak with us. We truly appreciate it.
It was a team full of characters that late announcer Harry Kalas referred to as a “wacky, wonderful bunch of throwbacks.” We are sure there¬†were plenty, but give us your favorite, perhaps craziest story about the ’93 Phillies.
(Laughs) Geez, oh man. Not really, there were so many that I can’t really¬†pin any one in particular down. It just started the first day of spring¬†training with (John) Krukkie and Jim Eisenreich. When Eisy walked into the clubhouse, Krukkie looked at him and said “Hey, you’re that guy with that Tourette’s Syndrome, right?” and Eisy said, “Yeah,” and Krukkie said “Well don’t worry, you’re going to fit in great here because everybody else is a lot¬†crazier than that, but they can’t blame it on anything.” Eisy had a laugh and everybody else did too, and it kind of kicked everything off.
Was that the best experience of your baseball career, playing with that team?
Yeah, no question. Way better than any personal goals or achievements, it was definitely the best, the ’93 season.
Oh yeah, absolutely, no kidding! It’s interesting, it seems like I see the Carter home run more than I do the Counsell scoring (laughing).
What did it mean to finally get that championship?
When you play long enough, in any professional sport I imagine, but personally playing 14 years in the big leagues, 18 professionally, you’re going to make money, if you have any personal goals, if you play that long, you’re going to achieve your personal goals. I was never a goal-setter, probably because I was hurt so much in my career, but you’re going to make a lot of money and you’re going to achieve a lot during your career, and ultimately, I think the only thing that everyone really desires is a championship. So it was good for me to win it and get out, because I couldn’t catch anymore after the ’95 season. I was ready to go.
What were your impressions of the Mark McGwire steroids confession?
I always thought the whole thing was pretty comical. I think it gives a real good pulse of the American people and what we perceive as this big military, industrial, world-wide, number-one country that presented itself in a manner that turned on one of their own and just really collapsed like a house of cards. I mean, if I was a foreign country and wanted to take over this country, I’d get a prescription for steroids and stand at the border and wave them, and then watch the American people fold.
I thought it was pretty comical, it seemed like there were 250 million victims out there, so that was the comical part. I think it was all just useless, but it did give us a pretty good read on what our society is like.
Do you have any comments on rumors that former teammates¬†Dykstra and Dave Hollins¬†used them?
No. Heck, no, I could care less, there¬†are a lot more important things in the world, and again, this is useless information. What does it¬†do? What has all of this done? Finding out whether or not a guy does steroids or not, I could never understand this. There are a lot of things that a lot of people do behind closed doors that they probably don’t want the public to know about. Whether you’re cheating on your wife, your husband, or you’re doing drugs, you don’t want your boss to know about something, you’re hiding something from somebody, or you’re watching porn and you’re masturbating. Whatever it is, everybody’s got one of these or they wouldn’t be here, but it seems like everybody gets to cast the first stone when somebody else is caught doing something, or allegedly caught.¬†It makes them feel better, and again, this is¬†kind of the pulse of the American ego, as long as we can point our finger at somebody, we’re¬†okay, we feel better about ourselves.
I think it’s useless information. Out of all this, who cares? What’s it going to matter? It really doesn’t. You know what you’re going to find out,¬†is that they’re just like you are.
Knowing what you went through — crouching behind the plate, foul tips and collisions, the knee surgeries — how impressive are the accomplishments of Joe Mauer?
This guy is phenomenal. Now that’s something to talk about! To be able to produce at the plate, and catch as many games as he’s been catching, and handling the staff, the wear and tear day-in and day-out, and to maintain that level of hitting? I was pretty impressed with (Mike) Piazza throughout his career, but Mike was not known for his defensive capabilities, obviously he was an offensive catcher, but just to be able to get back there every day and do it for that amount of time,¬†and then be able to produce like Mauer has done, and move the way he does¬†behind the dish and throw runners out and handle the game. I¬†think that if there’s anyone in the game that you¬†would like to build your club around, it would be (Mauer). If anybody deserves $25 million, it’s this guy.
As you’ve stated in the past, Mitch Williams didn’t run out of heart down the stretch and in the ’93 playoffs, he just ran out of bullets. The Phillies experienced something similar with Brad Lidge last year, so the question becomes, how long can Philadelphia stay on top with uncertainty at the back-end of the bullpen?
I don’t know how you can. No matter what you do, if you don’t have somebody there at the end to close games, you’re always going to have that uncertainty. Whereas it’s just the opposite on the team’s that are real successful, I can’t tell you how many championships the Yankees have won with (Mariano) Rivera out there, but that’s a luxury that not too many teams have. And you’ve got to have it, at this level the talent is so high on every team that you’ve got to have it.¬†If you play 162 games and then another month, if you’re out of bullets, it’s going to show up. The¬†cliche in the game, as well as you know, you’ve been¬†around it long enough, all of your weaknesses are going to be exposed.
What will the acquisition of Roy Halladay mean to the back-to-back NL champion Phillies?
I do not think that they are going to miss Cliff Lee. I understand what they received with Lee, and how well he pitched downt¬†the stretch for them, but¬†Roy Halladay is a horse, and they’re not going to miss Lee, I’m telling you.
The problem is, everybody wanted both of them, but it probably¬†affected Lee more than it affected anybody because it was probably a shock (to be traded).¬†But you’ve got to understand both sides of the situation, Lee is probably going to want five or six years, and I don’t know if I¬†had a blank check, with billions of dollars in my¬†bank account, whether I would do that. I just don’t know if I would take that sacrifice, but that’s what he’s earned. As far as what the industry calls for, that’s what he’s earned, go get a five or a six-year contract. But history has shown us that, toward the ends of these careers, and they’re making the¬†most money towards the ends of them, that they’re starting to break down.
It’ll be interesting to¬†see what happens with¬†(C.C.) Sabathia, but again, signing Halladay, he wanted to come, he got a three-year deal with a fourth-year option. They almost had to do that.
Jayson Werth rocks the kind of hair that would have blended seamlessly with the ’93 club, but how good do you think the Philadelphia right fielder can become?
Well, I don’t know, that’s hard to say. He’s progressively¬†gotten better, and I think that everyone was suprisingly fooled with¬†this guy, I don’t think anybody really expected¬†this out of him, other than himself. I know him, I don’t know him that well though, but a lot of times you can tell what’s inside a guy the more times you spend around them. I have not spent that much time around these guys, but what a surprise,¬†(Werth) has turned himself into a formidable major league hitter that has to be reckoned with in that line-up. You can’t just pitch around guys to get to¬†him anymore, because he’s going to hurt you, the way he stays inside the ball. And it’s amazing, sometimes it looks like he’s got some holes and you try to set him up for something, and he shoots you the other way, and he’s just dangerous. He’s a big enough guy¬†where he’s going to do damage, so I don’t know, this is all up to him now.
If he stays hungry, like he has the last few years and just continually gotten better, who knows, they might have¬†another guy in there for the MVP¬†voting, which is shocking. They’ve got two already (Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard), and¬†(Chase) Utley, he’s on the verge, and Werth could be as well, and so could Halladay. They’ve shown that they’ve got enough to get to the World Series two years in a row.
To bring up Mitch Williams one more time, the former closer said that “for his money,” you were the manager of the ’93 Phillies. What are your thoughts on that, and is managing something you would like to do in the future?
I actually contemplated it, approximately nine years ago when (Larry) Bowa got the job. I actually went in for a second interview, and thought I had the job, but that really wasn’t my calling. I don’t really have any aspirations of doing that, I do have some aspirations of possibly getting back with the Phillies organization. In what capacity I don’t know,¬†because I don’t want an everyday job, I don’t want to get in uniform, but I¬†do still enjoy¬†being¬†around the game.
And I pay Mitch to tell you guys that, so you’ll ask me that question and the Phillies will hire me (laughing). But that’s an honor (managing) and I was a student of the game and played¬†under some very great managers, and always thought that everything started at the top. Jim¬†Fregosi was the backbone of that ballclub we had, and you had to show him¬†your leadership skills for him to let you go.¬†I remember right when Fregosi got in there, he pinch-hit for me in Pittsburgh, I think it was ’91, but he pinch-hit Ricky Jordan for me late in the game, and (laughing) I got upset with him and I went into his office¬†after the game and said “What was that?”¬†(Fregosi) said “Until you show me that you can hit left-handed pitching, I’m going to pinch-hit for you late in the game.” And that kind of turned my career around,¬†so I needed the kick in the butt and I had to show him, but that’s really not my calling right now I don’t believe.
Tell us about Darren Daulton enterprises.
We’ve got some things coming up this month, I’m actually going up to Garry Maddox’s bowling tournament on the 26th, and I’ve got a charity dart tournament on the 28th at McFadden’s¬†(Restaurant and Saloon at Citizens Bank Park), and you can get all of this information on darrendaulton.com.
We’ve got an energy division, they de-regulated the energy up in the northeast, and we’re trying to get some charity events going, hopefully we’ve got a golf tournament coming this summer, I think Procter & Gamble might be back in this. There are some exciting things, we’re trying to get involved with some other charities and just a way to give back to the community, and stay connected up there in Philadelphia. After the season last year, I went up and did some work with Comcast and did some radio work, and I really enjoyed getting around the game again. And getting back into it, I had to really watch the games and study them like I used to when I played because I had to analyze after the games, so it was fun. And Darren Daulton Enterprises gives us an opportunity to stay connected to the game and stay connected to the northeast.
Darren Daulton, I have to say that the ’93 Phillies were, hands down, my favorite team of all-time,¬†and it has been a pleasure.¬† Thank you for taking a few moments to talk with us tonight.
Landon, thank you, pal. I appreciate it.